Russian hackers targeting kids' Instagram accounts - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Russian hackers targeting kids' Instagram accounts

A Valley woman says her daughter's Instagram account was hacked by Russian crooks. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) A Valley woman says her daughter's Instagram account was hacked by Russian crooks. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

It's been 10 days since Russian hackers hijacked a Valley woman's Instagram account, which she set up for her daughter to post dancing pictures. And she still cannot regain access to the account, or get Instagram to shut it down.

"I just keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. What are they going to do with the account?" said "Kristie," whose last name CBS 5 Investigates agreed to withhold because of concerns that hackers will target her again.

Kristie says she set up the account for her 12-year-old daughter Sara, who is a competitive dancer.

"She travels all over the country," said Kristie.

Sara uses the account to network with other young dancers and as a promotion tool.

Kristie says she created the account using her own email and Facebook page, and only allows Sara access to it by using Kristi's phone. She thought she had all of the "safety bases" covered.

But last Monday, she got an email alert that someone had changed the password to the Instagram account.

"It was routing through an email, an '.ru' email account, which I looked up and it looked like it was in Russia," said Kristie.

Soon, her daughter's profile name and the writing on the page were changed to Russian.

Experts say Russian organized crime groups are switching their focus from email to social media when they target their victims.

"They've shifted their techniques to try to take over social media accounts, where your guard isn't as high as maybe it is with email," said Ken Colburn from Data Doctors.

Colburn says the goal is often for the hackers to impersonate someone you know, so they can get you to click on a link or access a malicious website.

Kristie says she tried to contact Instagram through the company's hacking portal, but the links led to a dead end.

CBS 5 Investigates reached out to Instagram as well. A company official sent us a series of links and instructions for Kristie to follow, but they also appear to lead to a dead end.

"Honestly, I just want the account deleted," said Kristie.

Colburn says social media users can avoid similar problems by using two-factor authentication. It requires the web company to send a text or code to your cell phone any time someone tries to change your password. Some companies use two-factor authentication any time customers log on.

"So someone in Russia, they have your name and password, but they don't have your phone, so they can't get in," said Colburn.

You can find out how to use two-factor authentication for all of your social media accounts by clicking here.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter on the CBS 5 Investigates team. His reports have landed crooks behind bars and led to changes in state law.

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Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

He has exposed conmen who prey on the elderly and predators who target women and children. Morgan combines his legal training with the experience he’s earned over 20-years of news reporting in Arizona to break big stories and dig beyond the headlines. His stories about education, consumer scams and crooked politicians have gone on to make national headlines. Among his favorite investigations are the ones that take him undercover. In addition his hidden camera investigations on drug and human smuggling, Morgan infiltrated some of the most dangerous militia and vigilante groups in the southwest. Members were later charged with crimes that range from murder to child molesting. Over the years, Morgan’s work has appeared on CBS News, CNN, NBC, MSNBC, and NPR. Morgan won ten Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards, a regional Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting, the Society of Professional Journalists’ First Amendment Award, and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. Morgan is a graduate of the University of Arizona School of Journalism, earned his Juris Doctorate at Concord Law School, teaches media law at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, and is the president of the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona, Inc., which advocates for open records and open government. When he’s not working, Morgan enjoys camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats, and spending time with his family at their ranch in southern Arizona.

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